[AAACE-NLA] FW: Causes of illiteracy and poor literacy
david at collings.com
Sun May 23 22:33:30 EDT 2010
The following message is sent on behalf of Val Yule
(vyule at labyrinth.net.au).
david at collings.com
-------- Original Message --------
> From: Val Yule <vyule at labyrinth.net.au>
> Subject: Causes of illiteracy and poor literacy
> 2010 Causes of illiteracy and poor literacy
> Human engineering teaches us to consider the task, in looking for
causes of difficulty. Anyone with any relevant disability will be
handicapped more than the able. Thus the barrier of unnecessary
difficulties in spelling do not bar people like me, with verbal and
memory abilities. But always at school there were the children at the
bottom of the class and the gap kept widening, as they could not access
the benefits of reading.
> The effect on your students can be tested by you. Do not take
anyone's word for it without experiment yourself.
> In adult life the barrier and the gaps remain. The statistics tell a
sorry tale, despite the millions of dollars spent on remediation and
diagnosis.(Do you want them?) My work as a clinical child psychologist,
schools psychologist, and teacher of migrant English and illiterate
adults, seeing failing learners individually, gave me an insight into
the barriers of the writing system for learning to read.
> Our record is failed literacy despite a heavier expenditure on
reading than other countries. The figures are quoted daily in the media.
> The ubiquity of English is due to historical reasons - the British
Empire followed by the dominance of USA. We cannot keep it as the
world's lingua franca until it becomes easier to acquire.
> Michael Gyro askd us to look at 'learning-teaching scenarios that you
have been personally involved with'. Test if easier spellings make
reading easier for students with dificulties and also for students with
no problems. If possibl use a standardized test with 2 paralell
versions, 1 presented in the normal way, and 1 as set out underneath:-
> 1. Tell the students that surplus letters ar omitted, that do not
help with meaning or pronunciation and often mislead, e.g. minute
(small) v minut (60 seconds). Initial letters as in 'written' or dubl
letters to sho where stress is put are not surplus. Silent ‘e’ to
indicate a long vowel preceding is not surplus)
> 2. Tell the students that 35 common irregular (‘tricky) spellings ar
kept - These common words ar: all almost always among come some could
should would half know of off one only once other pull push put their
they two to too as was there where what want who why, and international
word-endings, -ion, -tion, -sion, -zion
> 3. Tell them that no spelling has mor than three possibl ways to say it.
> These paragrafs ar written in such a spelling. Other forms of
spelling can be experimented with.
> I hav found that the lowest level students with a few fonic clues
benefit very much, the top students like it very much becaus it gets
them thinking, and the students in the midl vairy - some like it but
some ar upset at first becaus they ar not used to it. I hav tried it
with scoolchildren at difrent levels, overseas students lerning English,
and adult migrants and poor readers.
> The other low-level students can lern fonics when they ar not upset
by the wurds that do not fit.
> (I can supply a test which sorted out the abilities of students
before the experiment.)
> This is the sort of reform that is needed for spelling – not a
complete rejigging into a fonetic reform that is unlike what we ar ùsed
to. It is the sort of simpl updating that has been made for Spanish,
Dutch, Portuguese, German and even French in the last twenty years to
> Recent psicological reserch finds that English-speaking children ar
behind German and Italian children with consistent spellings; that rates
of problems thru dislexia ar dubl in English-speaking lands; that we ar
losing out in meny ways to lands which spend less on teaching reading
than we do (e.g. Finland, Korea and Germany); and most pepl cannot spell
well in Spelling Bees, which ar not necessary in languages with
> As u can see, only a litl change is needed to help yur students. Only
a few alternativ spellings to choose from insted of hundreds, and only
35 very common wurds to memorise, insted of thousands.
> Laubach at first hoped for this change, to make a globel difrence.
> We know that Laubach literacy teachers claimd that they rutinely
teach illiterats how to read newspapers written in the language they
speak in 3 months. They hav duplicated this result in 200 languages but
not in French or English
> We know that scools that used a dictionary kee or pronouncing print
or the Initial Learning Alphabet with fonics teaching first in their
classes wer able to progress twice as fast as classes that struggld with
irregularities. Pitman's ITA-traind kids were not able to retain their
early sucsess after transitioning to TS in the third year, for several
reasons, including the difrent script.
> Teachers need not be afraid to try experiments like this, because
they arouse interest in spelling construction. On the other hand,
spelling games with jumbld letters, exercises in gessing which of
several spellings is correct, and not having writing corrected for
spelling do far more damage to vulnerabl students.
> Val Yule
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